When it comes to teenage girls and physical activity, many youngsters turn their backs on sport and fitness.
Keeping active for an hour a day
The pressures of examinations, social life, hormones, body consciousness and a heap of other conflicting factors mean that only 10 per cent of girls age 14-16 get the recommended amount of physical activity. According to the NHS this is one hour of activity a day. While this might seem quite a lot, it could include walking or cycling to school, or small chunks of exercise taken through out the day. For example, a 15 minute walk/run in the morning, a 30 minute PE class at school and a 15 minute yoga session in the evening.
Research by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation found that 51 per cent of girls in secondary education say they are put off sport because of their experiences in school sport and Physical Education classes.
This can be due to any number of varying factors. Some teenage girls say the activities are too competitive; others want to try different sports, aside from the traditional sports taught in schools. Yet others feel very self conscious in the PE kit they have to wear.
Kelsey Kerridge offers a solution
By offering activities in a gym and fitness centre environment, Kelsey Kerridge is providing a different way for teenage girls to experience and enjoy sport and activity.
In the gym environment, girls can choose the sports kit they wear. One top basketball player and spoken word poet, Asma Elbadawi, took to the airwaves with a poem highlighting the issue of sports kit when she discovered that elite level girls and women were not allowed to play international basketball while wearing the hijab. While she argued that this was discriminating against a group pf people, her wider point was that PE kit could make people feel very uncomfortable – who wants to wear skimpy PE kit at a time when body consciousness is an issue for many teenagers.
At Kelsey Kerridge, we just ask that sports kit is clean and safe – i.e. no loose bits of material that would get caught on equipment. Trainers that are suitable for exercise should be worn.
Something for everyone in the gym
When it comes to variety, we offer a huge range of classes and activities. As teenagers, many girls simply want to stay in shape. A regular gym workout, concentrating on cardiovascular exercise with some light weights would be ideal for this. But, to add variety and to increase their own knowledge, it is also good for teenagers to join classes such as spin, boxercise, Yoga or circuits. Activities such as climbing are great to engage teenagers looking for a different challenge.
Of course, those teens who want to get competitive can work as hard as they want to in the gym. There are always personal trainers and gym instructors on hand to offer advice to the aspiring athlete or team player on the best way to get fit for their sport.
Avoiding teenage growing pains
It is worth noting many young girls will experience dips in energy levels due to raging hormones. There is the risk of developing Osgood-Schlatter disease. This occurs if joints and muscles of the legs are put under too much pressure. Parents and carers should work with teenagers to ensure they don’t overdo things.
Activities for teenage girls should include:
Strength exercises using body weight to help build strong bones, ligaments and tendons
Endurance activities such as running, cycling and swimming to boost stamina and metabolism
Flexibility such as Yoga, dance and gymnastics to maintain flexibility through the body’s period of rapid growth
Coordination activities such as throwing, catching and jumping.
Girls are likely to feel very self-conscious during this period, so positive feedback from peers, family and friends is essential. Teenage years are key to establishing a healthy body image. This time of life is also key to developing strong bones too. 90 per cent of a woman’s peak bone mass is deposited during teenage years. So exercise at this age is crucial to ensure healthy, strong bones later in life.
A stress reliever for teenage pressure
Pressure on teenagers at this age is great. Exercise is a way to relieve that stress. It releases endorphins and helps boost self-confidence. It is also effective at counteracting the problems presented by puberty, namely erratic moods, decreased motivation and flagging energy levels.
If you know a teen who is struggling with life, then a trip to the gym might be the unexpected answer.